Nebraska researchers using drones as firefighting tool

April 22, 2016: University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers Carrick Detweiler, left, and Sebastian Elbaum, right, prepare their drone for flight at the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Neb./

April 22, 2016: University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers Carrick Detweiler, left, and Sebastian Elbaum, right, prepare their drone for flight at the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Neb./ (AP)

BEATRICE, Neb. – Researchers in Nebraska tested a new tool on Friday that could eventually help in fighting grass fires — drones.

A team from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln flew an unmanned aircraft over the prairie at the Homestead National Monument of America on Friday, dropping ping pong-like balls filled with a chemical mixture to ignite brush-clearing grass fires.

Local and federal officials are interested in the technology because it could help clear overgrown vegetation in rugged, hard-to-reach terrain, said Michael Johnson, a spokesman for the National Park Service.

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